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Viarosa - Send For The Sea

  by John Clarkson

published: 12 / 9 / 2008

Viarosa - Send For The Sea
Label: Pronoia Records
Format: CD


Staggeringly life-affirming and diverse second album from London-based Americana project, Viarosa

Viarosa’s 2005 debut album, ‘Where the Killers Run’ was a grief album. Written in the wake of its front man, guitarist and songwriter Richard Neuberg’s sister’s suicide and his subsequent five year battle between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depression, it was essentially a meditation on loss. ‘Send For the Sea’, the London-based group’s just released second album, features many of the same key personnel that appeared on that album, Rob McHardy (guitars, lap steel, pedal steel, piano), Josh Hillman (violin, viola), Emma Seal (backing vocals), Nick Simms (drums) and Mick Young (bass, who has since its recording been replaced by Caroline Lomas). Warily optimistic in tone, it, however, finds Richard Neuberg and Viarosa musically, emotionally and personally to have moved on An early indication of Neuberg’s increased sense of hope, ‘Tourniquet’, the opening track, takes its name from an old French term used to describe a compressed device that prevents blood escaping from an artery. “Cut out and tourniquet/the blood I keep is the blood I make”, Neuberg growls as an opening line. This first song, with it slithering fiddle and whirring guitars, and ‘Beggars and Thieves’, the chorus of which gives the album its title ,with its rippling cascades of piano, come from the same school of storming Americana that dominated much of the first album. ‘Ode to Sunlight’ in contrast is, however, much more gentle, a hazily delicate folk number that with its ebbing echoes of guitar and mandolin and Neuberg’s wife Emma’s ethereal flute playing, has shades both of Sandy Denny and early John Martyn. The elements-the stars, the sun, storms, the light and above all the calming influence of the sea itself-have a huge part to play on this album, and none more so on this track. At one level the most tender of love songs, at another a warning of possible environmental meltdown, it finds Neuberg abandoning the city and heading with his wife for the open plains of the North (“We’ll sing an ode to the sunlight/so hold out your arms when you stand at the door/don’t hide/don’t hide from the eye of the storm.”). It is possibly Viarosa’s finest recording moment to date. ‘The Last Resolve’ and ‘The Sea’ also finds Viarosa breaking into new territory. The former is a swaggering, bar room blues number which recalls Gogol Bordello with Hillman’s use of wild gypsy violin. Neuberg’s theatrical, throaty vocals here make him sound like he is a dozen whiskeys down the line, but in a neat comical twist they surprisingly belie a set of intensely romantic lyrics (“I’ll give you my first and my last breath of love/I ‘ll give you it all/I’ll give you the dawn/and we’ll go out into the wild/where the coldest light meets the fire/and we’ll follow the stars to the last, the last resolve.”). ‘The Sea’, the last track on the album, meanwhile is a semi-acoustic psychedelic ballad, which with its soft tingles of guitar and slowly rolling drones of violin, recalls the late Jeff Buckley. “I’d like to stay above the sea, keep my head up, keep my will”, sings Neuberg as a first and last line on this final track, capturing in a stanza everything which this fine album is about. Bruised and scarred, he know that what lies ahead is uncertain, but, through music, love and nature, is looking for a more settled and hopefully better future. Equally spiritual and redemptive, ‘Send For The Sea’, is in its diversity and tone, staggeringly life-affirming.

Track Listing:-
1 Tourniquet
2 Righteous Path
3 Some of You Know the Story
4 The Old Walls
5 Cruel Pull of the Stars
6 Without a Cause
7 Beggars and Thieves
8 Ode to Sunlight
9 Harness
10 The Last Resolve
11 Shame on the Light
12 The Sea

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Interview (2005)
Viarosa - Interview
London alt. rockers Viarosa have just released their debut Ep 'Porous' and have an album on the way. Frontman Richard Neuberg talks to John Clarkson about the influence his one-time Catholic faith and personal tragedy has had on his songwriting

live reviews

Borderline, London, 11/4/2007
At the Borderline in London, Olga Sladeckova watches rising alt. country bands Viarosa and Hey Negrita, the latter playing its first gig in a new line-up, play stunning sets
Night and Day, Manchester, 10/12/2006
Luminaire, London, 20/1/2006

digital downloads


Where The Killers Run (2005)
Diverse, complex and ultimately redemptive debut album from outstanding London six piece Viarosa, which encompasses elements of rock, folk, country and the blues

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